War of the Rebellion: Serial 090 Page 0524 OPERATIONS IN N. VA., W. VA., MD., AND PA. Chapter LV.

Search Civil War Official Records

plated the mounted skirmishers of the enemy were seen advancing over the ridge. This compelled a deviation from my first intentions, which were to move parallel to and in conjunction with the Nineteenth Corps. I was compelled, for the time at least, to break my connection with the infantry on my left, in order to direct my efforts against the force of the enemy now approaching on my right. Without waiting until the regiments the extreme right had closed to the left that portion of the First Brigade which was then available was moved toward the enemy; Peirce's battery was directed to follow, as was also the Second Brigade upon its arrival. The skirmishers of the enemy were easily driven from the ridge in front by the Fifth New York, supported by the Second New York and Second Ohio. Between the ridge and Cedar Creek the enemy had one division of his cavalry posted, under Rosser. Colonel Pennington, commanding First Brigade, was directed to attack vigorously with three regiments; at the same time Peirce's battery from a commanding position, opened a well-directed fire upon the massed squadrons of the enemy and produced the utmost confusion and great wavering in his ranks. Colonel Pennington's charge was completely successful, the enemy being forced back to a position bordering upon Cedar Creek. Here the latter opened upon us with four guns, but without effect. From the ridge upon which Peirce's battery was posted I could witness the engagement between our and the the enemy's line of battle. It was apparent that he wavering in the ranks of the enemy betokened a retreat, and that this retreat might be converted into a rout. For a moment I was undecided. Upon the right I was confident of my ability to drive the enemy's cavalry with which I was then engaged across the creek, upon the left my chances of success were not so sure, but the advantages to be gained, if successful, overwhelmingly greater; I chose the latter. With the exception of three regiments this entire division was wheeled into column and moved to the left at a gallop, Peirce's battery following at a brisk trot. Colonel Pennington, who remained in command of the three regiments; just named, was directed to continue his attack upon the enemy in order to cover the movement of the division. This accomplished, he was to withdraw two regiments, leaving only one to engage the enemy; the two regiments withdrawn were to follow the division at a gallop. That portion of the enemy in front of Pennington offered but feeble resistance to his last attack and retired to the south bank of Cedar Creek. This left Pennington at liberty to carry out his instructions. When the main body of the division began the movement toward the left the design was to gain possession of the pike in rear of the enemy, and by holding the bridge and adjacent fords cut off his retreat. Being compelled, however, to advance over an open plain and in full view of the enemy our intentions were fully and immediately comprehended by him. The effect of our movement, although differing from what we anticipated, was instantaneous and decisive. Seeing so large a force of cavalry bearing rapidly down upon an unprotected flank and their line of retreat in danger of being intercepted, the lines of the enemy, already broken, now gave way in the utmost confusion. Realizing the necessity of at once gaining the bridge, the disordered masses of the enemy, now completely panic-stricken, threw away their arms, and in a head-long and disgraceful manner sought safety in ignominious flight. Being separated from the bridge by a much shorter distance than that which separated my division, the enemy succeeded in making his way across with a comparatively small loss in prisoners. The few that were cut off by my advance were secured by the infantry or by the